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The Economic Footprint of Pakistan’s Military: A Power Beyond the Barracks

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Islamabad, Pakistan — The Pakistan military, widely recognized for its role in national security, commands a presence far beyond the borders of its military bases. A closer look reveals that the army’s influence extends deeply into the nation’s economy. The military’s operations cover an expansive range of sectors — from real estate and agriculture to banking and education.

Diverse Business Ventures:

Originally established to secure the welfare of retired servicemen and their families, several foundations and corporations such as the Fauji Foundation, Askari Foundation, and others now function as sprawling business conglomerates under the aegis of the Pakistan military.

Masters of Real Estate:

As one of the nation’s largest landholders, the military plays a pivotal role in Pakistan’s real estate sector. It’s involved in significant urban and suburban development projects, and its agricultural lands are substantial, cultivating a variety of crops for both domestic consumption and export.

Agriculture and Agribusiness:

With a firm grip on major portions of the nation’s fertile farmlands, the Pakistan Military has emerged as a dominant force in agriculture. Beyond traditional farming, the military is engaged in livestock breeding, dairy production, and an array of agribusiness ventures.

Energy, Infrastructure, and Public Utilities:

The military holds sizable stakes in key industries such as petroleum, cement, and fertilizers. Moreover, they maintain a significant presence in public sector entities, including those tasked with managing essential utilities like power and water.

Educational and Healthcare Initiatives:

Through its network of foundations, the military operates a wide range of schools and colleges across Pakistan, as well as healthcare institutions that offer services to both military personnel and civilians.

Banking and Financial Leadership:

Financial institutions such as Askari Bank illustrate the military’s strong footing in Pakistan’s banking and insurance sectors.

Tax Implications and Charitable Status:

The charitable status of military-linked businesses has attracted scrutiny, as critics suggest this status, originally intended to benefit veterans and their families, may be leveraged to gain favorable tax treatment.

Economic Magnitude:

With an estimated annual revenue exceeding $26 billion, the business ventures linked to the military contribute significantly to Pakistan’s GDP, further highlighting the armed forces’ widespread economic influence.

Generals’ Personal Wealth:

Allegations have surfaced that high-ranking officials, including generals, accumulate significant personal wealth through these ventures. For example, Chief of Army Staff, Qamar Javed Bajwa, was reported to have amassed personal assets valued at 12 billion Pakistani Rupees during his service, as per various sources.

Conclusion:

The Pakistan military, a bedrock institution of the nation, has transcended its traditional role. Rather than a government organ confined to national defense, it is an influential economic entity woven into the fabric of Pakistani society. Critics contend that these ventures have evolved into mechanisms for the military to exert substantial influence over the nation’s political and economic landscape.

While defenders of the military’s commercial enterprises argue they fund welfare initiatives for veterans and contribute positively to national development, detractors view them as a stark symbol of how deeply the military’s roots extend into the civilian sphere in Pakistan.

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